When I first discovered this passion called photography, I would always admire those lovely photographs that photographers had on their blogs of children and families in gorgeous fields of wildflowers. At the time, I lived in the city- Phoenix, Arizona, the heart of the Sonoran Desert. Wildflower fields and large fields of tall grass and wheat were few and far between, so I learned to create the illusion of lush fields and wildflowers with my photography.
Since then, I have relocated to Northwest Arkansas. Spring has finally sprung here in the south and I took my daughter out last week for some magical spring pictures. You can create magical spring images, even without lush fields and blankets of wildflowers. Let me show you how.
Scout locations daily.
Be a diligent location-scout… scout often and everywhere. This first location is at the entrance to my housing development. It’s not a lush field, but actually a large empty lot.
This location is in an empty lot across the street from my house. It’s nothing special, but I noticed these small purple flowers the other day and decided to photograph my daughter in the middle of this small patch to create the illusion of a field of wildflowers.
When scouting the perfect location, you don’t always need to look for large areas. Think small. This small patch of grass at the top of a small hill makes the perfect backdrop for magical images. Be sure to look at the background. When I moved slightly to the left, I was able to avoid the house in the background and get more of the trees directly behind my daughter.
You can create the illusion of a lush location by getting down low. When you get down low, grass begins to look taller and more lush.
Here are 2 shots of my location- absolutely nothing special. Can you see how I was thinking “small”?
Shoot wide open.
Or close to it… Shooting wide open allows you to blur not-so-perfect backgrounds. Toggle your focus points and focus on one of your subject’s eyes so that your subject is in perfect focus and everything else starts to melt away. Shooting wide open creates a magical feel to your images.
Put your subject’s back to the sun.
Mmmm, I love me some sweet, buttery backlight! Shoot when the sun is low in the horizon (usually around an hour before sunset is best) and put your subject’s back to the sun. Shooting wide open into the backlight helps to create the magical feel in your spring images. Meter for your subject’s face and bring a reflector if you like. Most of the time I do not have the time to pull out my reflector, so I will throw on a white t-shirt or add light to my subject’s face in Photoshop.
Utilize the power of Photoshop.
Don’t be afraid to add a little magic in post-processing. Because I was shooting wide open and exposed for my subject’s face, my background became blown-out.
No problem! I use my clone stamp tool and a cloud overlay to add interest and drama to the background. This particular cloud overlay is from Florabella’s Classic Workflow & Hazy Skies Action Set, but I have also created my own by taking pictures of clouds in my own backyard.
Use the clone stamp tool to add more flowers to a field, straighten a horizon, or remove distracting elements from the background.
I love adding magical light to my images. Sunbursts are created when shooting with a high f-stop of f/16 or higher. Since I shot these images wide open, the sun peeking just above the horizon was smooth and creamy, and I was not able to create a sunburst effect with the sun. I added a starburst in post-processing. This sunburst is from Nichole Van’s Flares & Sunbursts. Adding a sunburst adds just the right amount of drama and enhances that magical feel to your images. The trick to natural looking photos is to add sunbursts only where the natural sun is peeking through in the background. Adding a sun effect where there was no sun or on a cloudy day can often lead to an unnatural looking photo. Be mindful of the light in your image before adding a light texture or overlay.
As the temperatures begin to rise and that glorious sun begins to shine just a little bit brighter and warmer, I hope that these tips inspire you to go out and take your own magical, spring-inspired images.
Krista Campbell, Arkansas
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Krista is a lover of buttery backlight, golden fields, and capturing authentic emotion in her photography. She is a wife, mother of a spunky 7-year-old daughter, and an on-location, portrait photographer serving Northwest Arkansas. Krista is also a vendor on ClickinMoms and teaches online, post-processing workshops called Digital Darkroom Secrets.